Da Vinci in the Park  LbNA # 22721

Placed DateJun 2 2006
LocationColumbia, MO
Planted By
Found By The Irish Express
Last Found Nov 6 2010
Hike Distance?

Welcome to the Da Vinci in the Park letterbox. This is a easy, child friendly box set in one of the most beautiful parks in Columbia. I also choose to plant the box on the eve of the Art in the Park festival that will be held for the first time at the Stephens Lake Park. I loved the history of the park so I wanted to include it for you, I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

First a little history:

The roots of the Stephens Lake property date back to the early 1800's when David Gordon and 33 other land speculators founded the Smithton community that in 1821 became Columbia. Captain David Gordon built a cabin on the site in 1818, which served as a home for the Gordon family while the Gordon Manor was being built. The Gordon Manor was erected in 1823, the second year of Missouri statehood. The home was built with slave labor, using bricks made from clay found near Hinkson Creek. After completing the manor, the Gordons turned the cabin into their slave quarters. Pioneers along the Boonslick Trail would have seen David Gordon's stately house on the hill beside Hinkson Creek. Gordon's land featured a three-acre watering hole that often was the site of political rallies. Located in this area was a portion of Columbia known as the community of Happy Hollow. As early as the 1820’s, people were settling here along the Hinkson Creek, from the Stephens Lake property two miles southward, then northeast almost to today's Hallsville. No physical evidence of Happy Hollow remains. Nothing remains of the small farmsteads and homes that once filled the surrounding area, but some current Columbians have memories of stories told by their parents and grandparents about life in Happy Hollow, an early Columbia neighborhood. The land stayed in the Gordon family until one of David Gordon's descendents sold the family homestead and its surrounding 100+ acres to Stephens College in 1926. A Stephens College administrator, Enoch Arthur "Pop" Collins, had the cabin restored in 1935 with logs brought in from other Kentucky cabins. The cabin became known as the Pop Collins Cabin. The Gordon Manor was a college administrator's residence in the 1930's and served as a student dormitory into the 1970's. The Gordon Manor and Pop Collins Cabin were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Stephens College lacked funds to give the historic buildings much attention. On November 9, 1998, Gordon Manor caught fire, which was determined to have been intentionally set. At the time it was oldest brick structure in Boone County. The possibility of the property falling into the hands of a private developer mobilized the City of Columbia, environmental and other community groups to organize efforts to preserve the property for public park land. The City of Columbia acquired the park for public use in 2001. Pop Collins cabin was disassembled and moved to Nifong Park in 2004.

This year the annual Art in the Park festival will be held in Stephens Lake Park on June 3- June 4. Begun in 1958, Art in the Park is the oldest and largest fine arts festival in mid-Missouri. The festival features more than 120 visual artists from across the United States, displaying a variety of media including painting, drawing, photography, pottery, jewelry, fibers, sculpture, wood, and glass. For more information see http://artinthepark.missouri.org/

Now that you have stepped back into the history of Stephens Lake park, come out to the festival and stroll among some amazing art and do some letterboxing! Usually proven in the past the festival is very busy so letterbox stealthly and please re-hide well and drop me a line and let me know if you enjoyed this letterbox. A little prize awaits the first finder.

Now for the clues, before you begin your hunt you need to do some research. Find the size (in centimeters) of the Mona Lisa or her given name "La Giocondo" you will find that it measures 77 cm x ?. Remember this second number. Now travel to Stephens Lake park, I would recommend bringing a "walnut" or two for a snack. Locate the spiral giants reminescent of Stonehenge. Walk to this spot and enjoy the view of the lake and of the festival if you are there for Art in the Park. From the beginning or smallest part of this spiral sculpture find the 7th Stone. On top of the stone there are 8 rays etched in the stone. From the bottom left, count up clockwise to the 3rd ray. This ray points to an eastern tree. Walk 9 paces and you will be at the tree. Turn and face NE and you will see a lone tree in the field. Walk to this tree. Take a moment to admire this beautiful tree with lovely vines growing up. At your feet should be an open exposed tree root. Put your toes on the root and face the lake. Now here is where you will need that number from your research. Take this number and reverse it. This is the amount of paces you need to walk toward the lake. Once you reach this number of paces look to your left and you will see a rocky ledge under a small tree and tall grass if it is the growing season. Walk up to the rocks and find a fallen half log, then smile you just found Da Vinci in the Park! There are several lovely spots to sit down and stamp up. Please be aware of the path as you are finding and re-hiding as this is a well-used park especially for Art in the Park- any hey you might even see me there!